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Derek

Tamron’s 16-300mm Is a Real Boy Now, Goes Longer Than Pinocchio’s Nose


Tamron 16-300mm Di II VC PZD Macro

 

Remember when Tamron announced their plans to make an insane 16-300mm zoom for crop bodies? Well, today that lens becomes considerably more real, having gotten pricing and availability finally. Officially designated B016, it’s “friendly” name is the 16-300mm Di II VC PZD Macro, which astute readers will notice for once doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the lens. Missing are the maximum apertures, but luckily I can inform you those are f3.5-6.3. So, you have an effective 24-450mm (on Nikon, Sony, and pretty much everyone who isn’t Canon) or a 25.6-480mm (on Canon with their odd 1.6x crop) super zoom with the same apertures as the now-less-impressive 18-270mm. The PZD tells you it has a piezo-electric stepping motor for focusing, providing snappy focus for stills and acceptably smooth focus for video. VC is Tamron’s vibration compensation, which is really top of the line stuff these days and will do exactly what it claims when it says it’ll keep your images shake free. While I can’t in good conscience tell you an 18.8x super-zoom will optically stellar in every aspect, a pretty exotic construction of 16 elements in 12 groups with one ultra-extra (yes, they really call it that) refractive glass element, two low dispersion elements, one regular-ol’ extra refractive element, three molded glass aspherical elements, and one hybrid aspherical element suggest Tamron has gone to some pretty great lengths to assure it has the best image quality it possibly can for the constraints a super-zoom demands.

b016-elements

They gave us some small sample shots to illustrate what can be done with this:

Tamron_B016_Woman in market_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Stairs in Morocco_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_PacificSunset_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Man and Camel_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_JunglePlant_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Hiker_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Blue Alley in Morocco_©IanPlant

 

Preeeeetty, right?

So, obviously, the 16-300mm is not just redefining how many “x”s of zoom you can shove in a lens, but it has some aspirations for being a darn solid optic to boot. Big range, VC, exotic optical formula, and it even has a pretty darn awesome 15.3″ minimum focusing distance and none-too-shabby 1:2.9 maximum macro reproduction for the cherry on top.

All that was left is to know just how much this monster will run. And now we can tell you: $629. That’s it. $629. Only $180 more than the venerable 18-270mm. And we’re going to start receiving them on May 15th. Which is only like a month away,

So, maybe now would be a good time to remind you that you can get on our preorder list for one right here?

Thought so.



Derek

Nikon Announces New Android Camera, New 18-300mm


S810c_WH_HighRes.low

Getting our day started today is Nikon, who has “dropped” two new products for us to talk about: the Coolpix S810c, which is a Coolpix, and the AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR, which is different than this lens.

The cooler of the two is the S810c, which updates this model here which was Nikon’s effort to combat smartphones by building a mobile OS right into a camera. Well, it’ll come as no surprise that the S810c is that same idea, so, what you’re peepin’ at is a 16mp BSI-sensor strapped to a 12x optical VR zoom strapped to a full-fledged Wi-Fi enabled Android platform. This time around the Android is much, much better, being Jellybean and not the notably dated Gingerbread build the last one ran (though, I still wouldn’t get your hopes up you’ll ever see Kit Kat. You’ll have your Jellybean and you’ll like it, OK?). But still, Jellybean is no slouch, and they’ve implemented it so the Google Play Store is there from the get go, so yes, pretty much any image sharing, editing, or social app you can think of on your Droid is going to be available to you on this camera too. A hi-rez 3.7″ touchscreen makes using them possible, and you’ll find three dedicated buttons for making working Android a little easier. If you don’t have Wi-fi around but do have a phone Nikon has graced with its “Connect to S810c” app (that’d be iOS or Android, like everything else) you can share them from your camera to your phone and then use your cellular data to thinger them. It’ll come in white or black for $349.95 next month.

Preorder one here

AFS_DX_18_300_3.5_6.3G.low

There’s a little less to say about today’s other announcement. It’s an 18-300mm, it’s for DX crop bodies only, and it doesn’t seem to replace that other 18-300mm Nikon already has. Rather, this is just a slightly slower (f6.3 vs f5.6), shorter, and notably lighter (280g lighter, or 33% lighter than that other 18-300) option. Oh, and it’s cheaper, too. I guess that’s a thing, right? So, if you can live with a third of a stop slower, you can get a smaller, lighter lens for $100 less. Sounds good to me. It’ll also “drop” in May, and run you $899.95.

Preorder one here



John

Alternative Fuel keeps you going all day long


If you have ever wondered how to travel light and keep your data safe, you are not alone.  I get this question about once a month.  Historically, the answers have been (chronologically) carry a laptop,  bring a portable multimedia storage system, bring a netbook (remember those?)  and most recently try to squeeze by on your 64GB tablet.  The best answer has been to purchase lots of memory cards and hope that you don’t suffer any data loss through card failure.  With the burgeoning market of cloud storage, you can backup along the way as long as you have internet access.  But what about that African Safari trip?  Do you REALLY want to pay international cellular data rates for web access?  Can you push 200GB of data through that connection?

Finally, there is a solution that is completely affordable, doesn’t require a service contract, has zero overage expenditures and is only local WiFi dependent.

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Derek

Olympus Announces TG-3, New SH-1 Compacts


Olympus has announced a couple new cameras today for their line-up. The first is the Tough TG-3, and update to last year’s extremely well-received TG-2. The other is a new camera, the SH-1, which is point more at the so-called “enthusiast” end of the market.

TG3 Red Left Front

That one is the TG-3. In case the “Tough” on the side didn’t give it away. Also, those of you who’ve been doing this for a while probably know what’s what with the Tough line, but if you’re new to photo you should know Olympus’ Tough line is pretty much the original waterproof, freezeproof, and crushproof camera line. It more or less invented the entire category, and has quite a long pedigree behind it. Why, way back in 2008 Nick and I did a couple videos showing off the then-new 1050SW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmxwAvJFuFY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myQczisLblY As you can imagine, things have actually only gotten better in the past 5 years and change. Nick and I stopped making videos for one (zing!), but also image quality has gotten a lot better in compacts, and the tough side of the Toughs hasn’t slouched either. The TG-3 is the flagship of the line, featuring a larger than normal 1/2.3″ sensor with backside illumination, which gives it an edge over normal point-and-shoots when it comes to low-light situations. Also helping there is the super-fast f2-4.9 4x lens. The tough specs hold solid at 50ft waterproof, 220 pounds crushproof, and the seriously-when-is-someone-going-to-beat-this-spec 14 degrees F freezeproof. Like its predecessor, it has built-in wifi, GPS, and electronic compass, and has a super-macro mode which, if it lives up to what we’ve seen before, will continue to blow you out of the water: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8Te2ob7164 (thanks Marc!) I don’t have pricing in front of me for the TG-3, but it’ll begin shipping in mid-May.

SH1 Silver Left Front

The other announcement is the SH-1, which is new. Hence the 1. It also borrows its looks from Olympus’ popular OM-D mirrorless line, with the retro-tastic silver and black. In the last couple years I’ve had to call so many cameras “retro” that I’m calling this one the last one. It’s not retro anymore, it’s just the new modern again. Design and fashion trends are like that. So, let’s just say that the SH-1 keeps itself in line with the design language being used by other premium compact lines, including Fuji’s, and move on with life. It has a 24x (25-600mm equiv) optical zoom, though the f3-8.7 aperture range is more disappointing. Olympus does at least try to smooth that over by making the SH-1 their first compact to include their OM-D line’s impressive 5-axis stabilization system that counters not just X and Y shift, but pitch, yaw, and roll movements too. So, slower lens, but better IS. Certainly logic we’ve heard many times before from manufacturers. There’s a 16 megapixel 1/2.3″ BSI sensor in this camera too, and with the same TruePic VII processor as the TG-3 above means it’s probably the same sensor all around. Native ISO tops out at 6400, which is fine on a compact since most of you will probably stop after 1600 anyway given how everyone talks on forums. There’s a mode dial for PASM, but no RAW sadly. Looks like if you need looks like this with RAW you’re still better nabbing an OM-D E-M10. The SH-1 will be available in April, but like the TG-3 I don’t have a price yet. When we do, it’ll be updated on our page for it here:



Derek

Nikon Expands 1 System: New V3 Body, 2 New Lenses


Nikon 1 V3 With 10-30mm and Viewfinder

 

Check it. The Nikon 1 system (you know, the weird Nikon mirrorless line with the so-called “CX” mount built around a weird 1″ sensor with a 2.7x crop factor) has grown by three today with a new V3 enthusiast body and 2 less enthusiastic lenses.

The V3, while still suffering from a little bit of an identity complex (at the end of the day, there are still only two CX lenses with apertures you can pretend are enthusiast-oriented, and the price still pits it against the incredibly well-reviewed D3300 and D5300 DSLRs), the V3 does offer some interesting bullet points. Finally the V series has picked up dual command dials (although, as DPReview is quick to point out, you still have to use the 4-way for EV comp), and boy, it’s kinda fast. In addition to even snappier AF, the V3 will trundle along at 20 frames per second with continuous AF. Yeah. That. Sure, it’s not quite as high as the Casio, so, maybe less appealing for analyzing that golf swing, but probably pretty helpful for pray-and-spray approaches to amateur sports. At a full 18MP resolution, to boot. And, since we do Nikon USA, you get the electronic viewfinder and additional optional camera grip in the box. So, hey, there’s that?

10_30_PD_BK_a.low

And, there’re two new lenses to go with it: a new 10-30mm (yes, another one), and a 70-300. The 10-30mm is still a 3.5-5.6 VR, just like the last one, but this one is a “PD” model with power zoom. With that CX crop factor you get an effective 27-81mm lens with smooth power zoom for video use. But no filter thread. Sure. But, it’s pretty tiny, at only 1.1″ as shown there.

VR_70_300_TR_a.low

The 70-300 model is a bit slower still, coming in at f4.5-5.6. It’s also a VR model, which you would probably expect by now out of something that’s an 189-810mm monster of a telephoto. And by “monster” I mean a whole 4″ long closed, and under 20 ounces. Hey, there are advantages to a 1″ sensor, right? A 4″ 800mm f5.6 is one of them.

Also, it has filter rings like a proper god-fearing lens, and takes a 62mm one specifically. So, make that A 4″ 800MM F5.6 with filters you can even afford. Neato.

Preorders for all three below. Availability says April for the V3, but doesn’t actually say that’s the case for the lenses too, so, er, maybe?

Nikon 1 V3 with 10-30mm

1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f3.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM

1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 



Derek

Nikon’s D4s Now Real, Ships in Mere Weeks


I thought y’all’s morning should start like mine, with a bad pun. What I can’t recreate is receiving a snap from Nick in disbelief over the inanity of the D4s’ tagline, but hey, I can show you a screenshot of it:

Nikon D4s: Dominate the Decisive Moment

 

For added fun, the press release tacks an “, Again” onto that, implying we have at some point previously dominated the decisive moment already. It’s a bad morning to be the decisive moment, with all this being dominated and what-not, but a good morning to be a Nikon shooter because the wait for the D4s is over after what was (all considered) not actually a very long time at all. Yes, there were a few long weeks there where Nikon didn’t actually have a flagship we could sell you, since the D4 supply dried up before this replacement was ready, but it’s all cool now because the D4s is here to be more s-like than the D4 was.

For those of you knew to this game, Nikon tends to handle its flagships like Apple does iPhones. One year you’ll have a new model with lots of features and a new number, then the next go will be a more minor update (in Nikon’s case usually focusing on speed, both FPS and ISO) with an “s” tacked at the end. “S” for speed, you see.

[There also used to be "x" models with a focus on resolution, but, that was before the D800 was a thing.]

Anyway, look, here it is:

Isn’t it handsome, and nearly identical to the D4 before it.

So, what’s new? It’s still a 16mp sensor, but this is an all-new one that’s just the same resolution, and ISO for it now ranges from 100-25,600 native or 50-409,600 (!) expanded. And while expanded ISO may be a lie, that’s still a pretty impressive number to have in a pinch. Additionally, the camera will now shoot at 11/10 frames per second, full resolution, and pipe out uncompressed 1080p video at 24/30/60fps. Speed is also added at the transfer point with support for gigabit ethernet when doing LAN transfered, and the new RAW-S files that weigh in at half the file size of traditional NEF raws (while still being uncompressed) promise even faster transfers and snappier workflows for pros in a hurry. Finally, while not distinctly speed related, the D4s is more power efficient. With the EN-EL18a you’ll get over 3,000 exposure by the conservative CIPA measuring metric, or over 5,000 by Nikon’s internal testing. A few other tweaks and noodlin’s are present beyond that, but they’re all going to be more minor things and you can satisfy your curiosity about them with the press release after the jump below.

The price tag comes in at $6,499.95, and Nikon’s slated to begin shipping them to our dock March 6th, so, if you’re not on our list you should certainly do so soon. If you’re an NPS member be sure to give us a call at 1-800-726-5544 and ask for John or Jody to get help getting your allocation in.

http://robertscamera.com/d4s-body-only.html

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Derek

Sony’s HX400 Confirms Monstrous Ultra-Zooms Are Back In Fashion


Pop quiz: what do you get when you combine a 20 megapixels sensor, a 50x 28-14000mm f2.8-6.3 lens, NFC, GPS, WiFI, optical IS, 1080p HD, an electronic viewfinder, and a bunch of black engineering plastic together? Well, this:

ZYFRONT-LG

 

That. Or something that you’re supposed to have specialists dispose of properly, but, I was going for that up there. The Sony DSC-HX400, proving both that you just can’t shove enough meaningless letters onto a name and that ultra-zooms are truly alive and kickin’. It joins the Olympus SP-100 and Nikon P600 this spring in the ultra-zoom market, which is definitely seeing a renaissance after a few years focused more on travel zooms than monstrous bridge-style cameras with lenses bigger than most 18-55s.

Sony’s own little monster is slated for a $500 price point next month, and you can preorder it here:

http://robertscamera.com/cameras-lenses/cameras/point-and-shoots/cyber-shot-hx400.html

A lower specced H400 with a bigger but slower zoom, and then the H300 with only a 35x zoom will also come out next month to support the HX400, if your budget just can’t justify it, so keep an eye out.



Derek

Sony’s A6000 Is a Beast. Possibly Two Beasts.


a6000

 

Remember Sony’s A5000, aka the camera that killed the NEX brand? Sure you do, because you are clearly a royal reader of this blog, as I knew you would be. So, through the sheer power of your recollection and certainly not by clicking that link back there to see our previous post on the matter, you’ll recall that the A5000 is the inheritance of the NEX line mirrorless system with the 1.5x APS-C sensors and the E-mount lens system. And that it was pretty hot.

Except, it looks a little blander now that we finally get to meet its older sibling. The A6000, just announced, is on paper a gem.

It has a 24 megapixel sensor being processed with a new generation of Bionz X processor. It has 179 phase detect AF points covering 92% of the sensor, not even counting the contrast-detect AF system helping out, giving it AF times as fast as 0.06 seconds. Which is fast. And speak of fast, it’ll pop out those 24mp images at 11 frames per second, and it doesn’t even have to lock the focus to do it. That’s right, 11 fps and you can still use focus tracking during. Hot. No, sorry. Hawt.

The back is a 3″ LCD, the viewfinder is a slightly smaller OLED unit than was featured in the NEX-6, being probably the biggest gripe to level at Sony’s newest mirrorless. The price points of $800 with a 16-50mm zoom or $650 without it are also pretty solid for those specs, continuing Sony’s long run of super-solid mirrorless systems, especially if you don’t quite need the pro-focus Oly has been pumping into their line lately.

http://robertscamera.com/a6000-body-only.html

http://robertscamera.com/a6000-16-50.html



Derek

Olympus Announces 2 More Pro Lenses, Returns to Logical 3-Tier Lens Hierarchy


So, once-upon-a-time I was an Olympus shooter in their much-maligned 4/3 system. And one of the things I sorely missed about it when I switched to Nikon was Oly’s painfully reasonable lens organization system. They had three tiers: Standard, Pro, and Top Pro. Any time they made a new lens with a focal range similar to an existing lens you could be sure it would be filed in a different tier, and within each tier there was no overlap. Basically, you could just pick your price-point and desired features and the tier system would spit back one cohesive lens line with minimal overlap and no confusion. The standard grades featured plastic bodies and slow variable apertures, the Pro line added weather-sealing and fast variable apertures, the Top Pro line was as well built as anything could be with constant apertures in all models, plus the weather-sealing too. It was easy, logical, and absolutely lovely.

And as of today it’s (finally) coming back, this time to the much-less-maligned Micro 4/3 system. The 12-40mm f2.8 announced with the E-M1 and last September’s announcement of the 40-150mm f2.8 for the core of the new PRO line, the new top-pro category. So, with m4/3′s 2x crop factor that’s 24-300mm covered at f2.8. Today’s two lenses, the 7-14mm f2.8 and 300mm f4, expand that range to 14-300mm continuous at f2.8, and then a 600mm super-tele f4. All with top-notch metal build quality and weather-sealing, as well as distance scales and the like.

Not sure how the reorganization below the PRO line will shake out, but the 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 with it’s higher build quality and weather-sealing seems indicative of where the middle will be. All in all, exciting times for Olympus and their rapidly maturing m4/3 pro line.